I haven’t traveled much, but my husband will be retiring soon so we will definitely be traveling more in the near future. I learn so much from you, Alex, and all readers that follow you. The one trip to Japan, last year, made me realize that although I LOVE the RM Julian backpack, it was not practical when taking the train so often. A crossbody is more practical. Not only in having to get your ticket out and your usually rushing, but when you’re inside the train. Whether you’re sitting or standing, you’re always taking off and putting on your backpack. Kind of a slight inconvenience. With a crossbody, it stays in one place and everything is at your fingertips. I still love my RM for walking around because it feels better to my shoulders. Thank you again for all that you offer to all of us. I really appreciate it. Have a great day!

which travel bag to buy


It’s worth noting that Marmot did decide to use thinner materials on the current Long Hauler. With a burly 1,000-denier fabric, the older version was prized for its toughness and durability. Unfortunately, Marmot downgraded the bag to 600-denier while adding a side pocket. 600D certainly isn’t bad, but it’s now thinner than competitors like the Patagonia Black Hole and The North Face Base Camp while the price remains similar. We still like the Marmot, but it just doesn’t stand out like it used to. 
When choosing a duffel, consider how much you’ll want access to your belongings as you travel. The most streamlined models feature one large compartment with no internal organization (the REI Roadtripper, for example), while more fully-featured designs include handy external pockets for small items or padded compartments for a tablet or computer. Rolling duffels such as the Osprey Shuttle are downright luxurious, with numerous external pockets and internal dividers to help you organize your clothing inside (it even includes an expandable external pocket so you can separate dirty clothes or hiking shoes from the rest of your belongings). For travelers, we think that at least one external pocket is nice to separate out your smaller essentials.

Of the full-sized duffels, the Patagonia Black Hole is impressive for its size. At three pounds three ounces, this proved to be the lightest model in the larger volume range. Comparatively the The North Face Base Camp was the heaviest, ringing in at four pounds one ounce for the 90-liter size. One pound more for the greater organizational and durability attributes of the Editors' Choice winner is well worth it.

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In our Ease of Packing category, we compared how easy it was to load each bag with both typical travel items as well as oddly shaped things that many people might want to include. We also compared how simple it was stay organized using smaller pockets and compartments and how much of a hassle it was to search both in these pockets as well as the main compartment and then the difficulty of zipping everything shut again when we were finished.

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Hands down, the easiest duffels to pack, unpack, and rummage around in are those with a large, U-shaped opening. Duffels such as the Patagonia Black Hole feature this design: a zippered flap extends around three of the four sides of the top of the duffel and opens to reveal most of the contents. These bags provide easy access whether in a hotel, tent, or on the road. Other bags, such as the Filson Field Duffel, open in a more traditional style, with one zipper that extends across the top of the bag. With a smaller opening, access to the contents is more limited, and especially when full (this means more rummaging and disorganization). If you’re looking to prioritize convenience above all else, large roller duffels like the Osprey Shuttle offer the most rigid structure and largest opening for packing and unpacking.
Ive spent a great deal of time in Mexico on missions trips. Unfortunately, due to an autoimmune disease, I have a true allergy to the sun, so I am covered head to toe. But this actually helps me with safety. I keep a small crossbody purse hidden under my long, flowy blouses for valuables, then a bigger crossbody tote over my clothes that carries my medical supplies, water, and a small amount of cash in a small wallet attached by strap on the inside. I also look for maxi dresses or light pants with deep pockets or pockets that snap closed. Ive never had my things stolen, even in the most sketchy places. I also shop at second hand stores for travel clothes and accessories, that way, I wont be that upset if things are stolen.
It’s worth noting that Marmot did decide to use thinner materials on the current Long Hauler. With a burly 1,000-denier fabric, the older version was prized for its toughness and durability. Unfortunately, Marmot downgraded the bag to 600-denier while adding a side pocket. 600D certainly isn’t bad, but it’s now thinner than competitors like the Patagonia Black Hole and The North Face Base Camp while the price remains similar. We still like the Marmot, but it just doesn’t stand out like it used to. 
This is an amazing bag!!. I purchased this for my sons 18th birthday as the bag he receipt chased for himself is really small. I took several pictures and filled it to capacity so that you can get a real idea of what this bag will hold. All the items pictured were inside this bag. The details are amazing on the bag and the leather quality is great. I anticipate he will get many years off use. I looked at many bags and I am so happy I decided on this one. Lots of storage pockets inside and durable carry handles.

For most types of travel, from a weekend at the cabin to an international trip, a casual duffel will do the trick. You still get plenty of features with these bags: backpack straps are common (more on that below), many have a water resistant finish for protection from light precipitation and wet ground, and organization can be good depending on the size. If you’re strictly using your duffel for air travel, a roller duffel is a good option: it will allow you to move quickly through the airport without having to haul your bag on your back or shoulder.


The Bago Packable is built and marketed as what we'd call "secondary luggage"; it is a fairly lightweight, full-size duffel that can be folded and zipped into a small envelope when not in use. Whether it lives in your car for getting unexpected purchases into your 7th floor walk-up apartment or in your expedition luggage for moving groceries from Anchorage to the Ruth Glacier, a duffel bag like this is handier than you might first realize. It is closely comparable to (and snags this award from) the Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole. The Lightweight Black Hole is a little lighter (in absolute terms, for the respective sizes we tested) and more waterproof, but is only available in smaller sizes and doesn't have the organizational attributes of the Bago. When corrected for volume, the Bago is definitely lighter than the Patagonia.

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2. There are several embedded pockets, such that it renders other pockets useless. on the top of the bag, the water proof pocket embeds into another pocket. If you have filled that second pocket, you cannot use the waterproof pocket -- there is no where extra for it to expand. This means I have two pockets, but have to make a decision about which of the two I actually want to use.

what are smart bags for travel


For uses like travel where you’ll be moving around a lot—think backpacking through Europe—we prefer non-roller duffels. They’re easy to grab and throw on your back, and you don’t have to worry about the surface (if you’ve ever tried taking a roller duffel down a cobblestone street, you know what we’re talking about). If you’re primarily an air traveler and moving your bag long distances by vehicle, a roller duffel is a fine option, and you do get the added benefit of one hard side for protecting your belongings. For the purposes of this article and the picks above, we’ve included a handful of our favorite roller models, and some of the standard designs have wheeled versions available.
This classic luggage set is highly versatile and can be easily stowed in the overhead compartment during your next flight to visit mom. The set includes a boarding bag with flexible strap, which fits a tablet and other accessories with ease, and a spinning carry on. Both bags are crafted from vegan leather and are durable and lightweight. Add a personal touch to the luggage and get your pieces monogrammed for a small additional fee.

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For most types of travel, from a weekend at the cabin to an international trip, a casual duffel will do the trick. You still get plenty of features with these bags: backpack straps are common (more on that below), many have a water resistant finish for protection from light precipitation and wet ground, and organization can be good depending on the size. If you’re strictly using your duffel for air travel, a roller duffel is a good option: it will allow you to move quickly through the airport without having to haul your bag on your back or shoulder.

how to pack your bags for travel


My favorite tip is to be organized and prepared but still willing to be spontaneous. When going new places, my husband and I research the top places to go, get recommendations, and decide what general areas we want to go to. We make sure to hit the top things on our list and then just wander to see what else we can find. When we went to Tokyo, we found the best ramen place and a beautiful little park just by wandering around.
I have an upcoming weekend business trip where I go straight to a conference upon landing. Normally, I just travel with a backpack as my travel bag on such short trips. However, I want to up my travel luggage game, so I thought a nice leather duffel bag could be just what I was looking for. A travel duffel bag is still small enough to use as my carry on luggage, but big enough to hold enough clothes for a weekend easily. Plus, a nice leather duffel bag would cast a professional look. 

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A weekender bag is a smart choice for quick getaways. Pack a change of clothes and all of your toiletries before hitting the road. Zipper closures keep everything tucked safely inside, and large, comfortable handles make it easy to carry. Weekender bags also come with long straps, giving you the option of hands-free carrying too. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, these bags can make your trip just that much more comfortable. With one of these bags in hand, you’ll always be ready to hit the road.

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I bought a fabulous cross body satchel in dark grey canvas years ago it has flaps and zippered compartments – and plenty of room for a rain jacket – trouble is it is so heavy that by the end of a long day my neck hurts. So last time we went to the US I bought a small shoulder bag I wear it cross body and it has my phone credit card some cash and passports on it. Hubby gets a back pack with my scarf, rain jacket and a water bottle. Best reveal tip – make the husband carry the heavy stuff lol

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Its a nice looking bag for sure. But after you use it a few times you notice its not really made that well. I know for $200 you can't expect much. For instance, the cloth on the inside of the bag is very thin and poorly sewn in. Also,the leather on the inside of the bag isn't treated and isn't double layered and sheds all over the inside of the bag every time you use it and so you have to brush off your clothes. (See pictures.) Also, the leather shoulder strap is so slippery it falls off just about every fabric you wear and so you will have to loop it over your head to get it to stay in place when walking through the airport or something.
This duffel has two front pockets to keep your valuable on-hand, as well as an expanding side pocket for storing dirty laundry or shoes while traveling. There are two hand straps and a detachable shoulder strap so you can configure it for easy carrying. It's available in seven different colors. Overall, the Hexin duffel is a large and versatile bag for a low price. 

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The Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel is our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice for the Best Wheeled Luggage because of its simple, but very easy-to-pack design. It also has a strong, abrasion-resistant and water-resistant construction. Icing the cake is the fact that it all checks in at an impressive light 7 lbs 8 oz. Our testers appreciated the Black Hole Wheeled Duffels above-average "off-road" performance on rougher terrain, as well as how easy it was to handle while maneuvering in crowded airports - thanks to its narrower wheelbase and good extension on its handle.

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The quality of the leather is much more impressive in person than is evident on the computer screen. I've shopped for similar bags and found them -- at almost twice the price. This bag is a bargain. I've used it once for a weekend trip, and it held everything I needed and some things that I did not turn out to need (I tend to over pack). My wife likes it so much that she has extracted a promise from me to buy her one just like it -- for her birthday in two months. Plan to do it too.


Updated 7/8/17: After my original review i was contacted by seller and asked if i wanted a full refund or a replacement bag. I wanted the replacement bag, as i really liked the bag. I did not ask them or enquire for them to do this. They did it on their own. Really impressed with the way they handled this issue. Customer service awesomeness ! I recieved several followup emails, as i dont check my email everyday. The new bag arrived and upon checking out the new bag, it appears there has been some quality upgrades made to make the bag a better product. Very happy customer, i changed my review to 5 stars because of the customer service. Unprevoked responce, ... full review

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First some pluses: This is a spacious bag - could easily pack for up to a week in it. Even when it is quite full, the backpack straps are constructed in a way that it doesn't feel too heavy on your back (for reference I am ~5'5, so the bag is quite large relative to my frame but does not feel cumbersome to carry as a backpack at all, even without support straps). I love that it has a computer sleeve that fits a 15" laptop, a couple smaller tech pockets, and separate external pockets for laundry/shoes, as I primarily use the bag for days I want to go to the gym in the morning and straight to work for the day [sometimes with a run in the afternoon].
If retiring your ratty old gym bag took a real toll on your psyche, try replacing it with this gym bag-adjacent duffel from United by Blue. The elevated carry-all features interior and exterior pockets for easy organization and a removable crossbody strap. PS: the bag comes with a lifetime manufacturers warranty, so you can send it in for repairs years from now.
Traveling to a weekend wedding/bachelorette party and don’t want to take a big suitcase? Then, you might want to consider a garment bag from Tumi – it can fit several dresses, a pair of shoes, and most accessories/toiletries. Looking to go on a business trip, but don’t want to check your bag? Then, you might consider a two-piece carry-on suitcase and boarding bag from Mark and Graham.

The Base Camp Duffel from The North Face is a fully-featured bag and a direct competitor to the Patagonia Black Hole above. It’s similarly tough and water resistant, offers easy access to the inside, and can be carried as a backpack, which we love. Both bags offer comparable organization pockets, but the Base Camp’s medium and large models add an exterior compartment on one end that allows you to separate dirty clothes and shoes. The Base Camp comes in more colors and designs than we can count, and is available in capacities ranging from 31 liters (XS) to a whopping 150 liters (XXL). For everything from a carry-on to an expedition workhorse, this is one of the most popular duffels on the market year after year.

I’ve looked at these bags before but have been on the fence about purchasing because of what other travelers have noted: I wish they were a little more fashionable. Love the features but the canvas just strikes me as a little too casual; I’d love to see the Signature 3 Crossbody (my favorite design so far) in a full grain black leather (like the Rebecca Minkoff backpack!). Now I am planning a trip to Peru and considering whether I feel safe enough carrying my Minkoff backpack…which I LOVE…or whether it’s time to pull the trigger. But, without your post I may not even have considered it so thank you!


Why do we have the SealLine ranked here? The YETI has more structure and is much easier to pack, not to mention the fully waterproof zipper system mitigates the common user error of creating a roll-top seal (SealLine also makes the Zip Duffel, which has a waterproof main zipper). Moreover, the YETI has backpack straps and therefore is easier to carry. The cherry on top: the extra thickness of the YETI means that it’s much more durable in the long term. But for those looking for a waterproof duffel without breaking the bank, the SealLine WideMouth is a nice option.
These recommendations are great! I need a travel bag for my upcoming trip to Italy, so this is super helpful. One travel tip I’ve heard over the years in the same vein that I think is really helpful is when you’re walking with a rolling suitcase to keep it either between you and your travel companion, or if you’re alone to keep the bag on the side of you closest to a wall. This applies to bags as well. That way it’s much harder for someone to swipe it as they go by, especially if they’re on a bike, Vespa, motorcycle, etc.
We can’t sing the praises of this bag enough. It’s spare but polished, made of lightweight, stain-resistant nylon, and hits the sweet spot of form and function. The interior offers plenty of pockets for keeping your stuff organized, and it’s got wheels and a retractable handle hidden in a zip pocket, so you can roll it through the terminal if you overpack.
1. For a $200+ dollar bag, I would not expect to have so many problems with the zippers. The design of zippers around the top of the bag is such that they get stuck in the corners at the bottoms and it take a minute of rearranging the sit of the zipper tracks and jangling with the zipper to get it come unstuck and finally zip up. On my bag, this is a bigger problem on the right side corner as you are looking at it. Perhaps this could be remedied by simply using a slightly bigger zipper track or bigger zipper tag? Regardless, its an obnoxious tick.
For a timeless look and heirloom-quality construction, you can’t get better than duffels from American heritage brand Filson. The brand tests their gear on real-life customers who haul their bags hunting, fishing, and even dog-sledding, so this bag is guaranteed to weather every weekend trip you haul it on — and that leather will only look better with age. 

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NOMATIC was born and raised on Kickstarter. We have successfully funded and delivered 5 projects through crowdfunding. In 2014 we launched the BASICS Wallet, in 2015 the BASICS Notebook, in 2016 The NOMATIC Travel Bag, in 2017 The NOMATIC Backpack and Travel Pack, and the beginning of this year The NOMATIC Messenger and Laptop bag. All of these past products are available at www.nomatic.com
I love my bag!!! This is a beautiful bag with quality workmanship. It comes with a large inside zipper compartment trimmed in leather, leather luggage tag, brass feet and tasteful logo stamp at bottom front of bag. The hardware is sturdy as well a nice looking. It looks more expensive than it is so its a real bargain. I love the leather smell also. The description only mentioned the cellphone pockets, pen and card holder so I got more than expected. The outer zipper is metal YKK with leather tab. It's roomy with enough space for a weekend rendezvous. I'm very pleased!!

travel backpack


I love reading all of your articles. Even if I’m not visiting that particular part of the world! A great travel tip: Purchase a pair of foldable flats. Everyone says to never walk around an airplane in bare feet or socks. The minute I sit down in my seat, I take off my shoes & put on these. When we’re starting to land, I remove them & put my shoes back on. They’re soft, comfy, very affordable, lightweight & fold up into a soft pouch to throw in your carry on. Many colors to choose from on Amazon.
When you're transporting sporting, camping or other gear and equipment, you want your bag to be able to hold a substantial amount of weight and stand up to a variety of conditions. Travel duffel bags and other bags in our selection of duffel bags are made of strong and sturdy materials, such as polyester and cotton canvas, with high deniers for durability and lasting use. Look for bags with water-resistant or weather-resistant coatings if you know you'll be using your duffel bag in the outdoors.

Both the strap and purse body are made of slashproof mesh, the straps and zippers lock, and the inner compartment blocks RFID thieves. And I know you could buy an LED light anywhere, but I love that this purse comes with one attached. This is an ideal lightweight travel handbag to slip into your luggage or use for the basics - passport, money, cards, phone...


This workhorse bag counts lifestyle bloggers, moms, and T+L editors among its devotees. With interior and exterior pockets for organizing your stuff, a drop-strap that makes hauling it around easy, and a bottom zip compartment for keeping shoes or dirty clothes separate, it’s a practical pick for long weekend excursions. The relaxed-chic look in a range of shades is just the icing on the cake.

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Grab handles often are located on the ends or sides of a bag and sit close to the surface. Similar to carry handles, they are used to quickly lift or slide a duffel. Having a grab handle on each side is convenient when moving the bag around (think about grabbing it from the overhead bin of an airplane or the storage compartment on the bottom of a bus). We love grab handles: they are one the reasons that duffels are so versatile and easy to move around.

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Nearly all the duffels with backpack straps were reasonably comfortable to carry, and because all of our reviews find this such a valuable feature, it was a design focus during our model selection process. A couple of standouts were The North Face Base Camp and the Patagonia Black Hole, which were exceptionally comfortable and even still reasonable. When we say reasonable, we mean the blood circulation to your arms wouldn't be cut off, something that was the case with many models with poorly designed shoulder straps (even when worn for short durations when loaded with 50+ pounds).
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